Alsobrooks preaches county’s strength in first State of County address

June 12, 2019, Jose Umana, Prince George’s Sentinel

COLLEGE PARK – In her first State of the County address on June 11, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks highlighted her successes in forming partnerships, funding education and continued economic growth in the county.

By the end of her speech at The Hotel at The University of Maryland, Alsobrooks wanted to make one thing clear: the “Crown Jewel of Maryland” is prepared to continue growing into the future.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the state of the county is strong, and together, it will be forever more,” Alsobrooks said.

The county executive’s address comes at the midway point of her first year in office with several successes already on her resume. Alsobrooks triumphantly lobbied for over $1.5 billion in state aid for education, youth athletics, beautification and street improvements. The Prince George’s County Council approved several of her beautification projects proposed in the fiscal year 2020 budget.

The bulk of her state of the county address focused on the economic development growth within the county, which started with the National Harbor project that began during the Baker Administration. The success of the area, plus the addition of the MGM National Harbor resort, has changed the perception of the county, Alsobrooks said.

“There is a certain type of developer that we’re interested in wanting to attract,” Alsobrooks said. “We appreciate developers that care about more than just building a project but also building strong and healthy communities.”

Newer projects, including the South Lake housing and mixed-use development in Bowie, and the county’s maintaining a AAA Bond Rating from all three of Wall Street’s financial rating agencies is further evidence that Prince George’s County is a perfect destination for investment for any organization, Alsobrooks said.

“This is a new day for Prince George’s County, and it continues to amaze me how business and government can work together as partners to improve education and opportunities for those who cannot access the system,” President/CEO Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable Jim Estepp said. “We will continue to grow the quality of life here for all Prince Georgians.”

While talking about the recent successes in economic growth, Alsobrooks also revealed plans for the county’s future. While reminding the audience of projects that have been confirmed, like the new Metro offices and hotel project in New Carrollton, she reconfirmed the county’s interest in becoming the new home to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The Bureau reached out to the county in early April and is currently looking at a 100-acre site on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center as an area for relocating their production facility, according to Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation President David Iannucci.

“It is a $1.4 billion project with well over 1,000 jobs in well over a million square foot federal facility where they would print our money,” Iannucci said. “It is in the early stages, but it is not a done deal, but it is heavily weighted that it will come to Prince George’s County.”

In announcing the county’s interest, Alsobrooks flaunted its economic growth while joking with the audience, stating, “We are so good they decided to print money here.”

One person who announced his support for Alsobrooks was Council Chair Todd Turner, who praised the ability to work together with her in completing the fiscal year 2020 budget. When addressing her work in Annapolis in securing funding for education, Turner said that the council and Alsobrooks make “a good partnerships for all county residents.”

“I think we all agree that Prince George’s County is moving forward and that is due in large part by the heighten level of the services that are taking place in our communities and in every level of county government,” Turner said.

The most passionate moment of the speech was Alsobrooks addressing derogatory comments made by State Del. Mary Ann Lisanti toward county residents.

According to the county executive, the decision to have a press conference calling out Lisanti’s “shameful” language came after having multiple conversations with her father and seeing residents’ reactions.

The situation served as a distraction, Alsobrooks said, as she and county officials worked to obtain state funding for education through Annapolis successfully.

“We did not come to the state capital to lose our way. We came to fight for the future of our children,” Alsobrooks said. “So instead of coming down to arguing with a dinosaur, we took the opportunity to tell Annapolis what we came up there for in the first place.

“And this time, we did it with microphones and an audience that included every television and news outlet out there. I unapologetically stood there and demanded that they fully fund the education of Prince George’s County’s children.”

Alsobrooks acknowledged there are things still left to do and looks forward to completing them during her full four years in office. She justified the use of the Commercial Property Improvement Program grants to business owners as a way to help improve the appearances of their businesses. However, the overall goal of the grants is to encourage more development in the shopping centers as well as around the surrounding areas.

In a roundabout way, the hope is the improved surroundings will attract more grocery stores to fight off the food desert situation in the county. Together with continued economic success are long-term projects that Alsobrooks is willing to tackle, she said.

“You should know that Prince George’s County isn’t on the brink; Prince George’s County isn’t around the corner. Prince George’s County isn’t almost there,” Alsobrooks said. “Prince George’s County has arrived.”